SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for All-New Wolverine #32 by Tom Taylor, Djibril Morissette-Phan, Nolan Woodard and Cory Petit, on sale now.
All-New Wolverine may be ending and Laura Kinney may be going back to her X-23 handle, but the creative team is going out on a high note with a final string of stories about why Laura and her little sister/clone of a clone Gabby are such heroes. It’s a strange thing to think about, that hero would probably not have been the word you’d use to describe X-23 when she first debuted. She spent much of her first decade as a character with a lot of baggage struggling to deal with that.
Used, abused, manipulated and betrayed, X-23 was even more of a loner than the man she was cloned from, but now she’s happy, healthy and one of the most stable superheroes in Marvel’s roster, which is saying something. However, that happiness and stability comes at a cost as Laura seeks to atone for the atrocities she was forced to commit which means revisiting one of her earliest assassinations to get revenge for a little girl who lost her father.
The first time anyone in the Marvel Universe got a hint of the child assassin known as X-23 was when she was assigned to kill a presidential candidate and slaughtered the entire room, leaving no witnesses. It’s only thanks to a split-second photo of her initial attack that anyone knew who was responsible at all. This week’s issue of All-New Wolverine revisits that massacre from the perspective of one of the victims, a member of the Secret Service named Ryan Griffin and his daughter Amber who was orphaned in the wake of the attack.
Amber went on to establish the Orphans of X group, dedicated to getting revenge on all of the Wolverines for their roles in the deaths of their loved ones, but Laura convinced the group that the people they hated were as much victims as they themselves. When she was X-23, Laura was simply a tool wielding by people with money, power and influence to get what they want and now as Wolverine, she’s vowed to find those people and make them pay for what they made her do.
Nazi Stomping Boots
While the attack on the Senator was dubbed a trial run to attract bidders to compete for X-23’s services, recently Laura has learned that the target was chosen by a Neo-Nazi lobbyist for his commitment to stamping out corruption in Washington. The only problem is that the lobbyist fled to The Republic of Vanuatu which has no extradition, leading to Laura and Amber to head their themselves to bring him back.
While the raid on Vanuatu and the extradition of the lobbyist is a well-told mini adventure for Wolverine, it’s almost incidental. This issue shows just how far she’s come and why she’s arguably a better Wolverine than Logan himself. She doesn’t kill, she recognises her faults and seeks to make up for them, she’s surprisingly good at making friends and she’s surrounded herself with a supportive family. By resolving the issues surrounding her first kill and the fallout from that, Laura has finally put her life as X-23 behind her. It’s a shame she’s going back to that name instead of remaining as Wolverine or taking on a new codename, because X-23 represents a part of her life that is over now and she’s grown beyond it. She truly is and always will be Wolverine in the eyes of many fans, regardless of what the logo on the front cover says.